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Microbial Physicians: Delivering drugs with bacteria

by Benika Pinch Fancy a pill packed with bacteria? Researchers are investigating using genetically modified bacteria, taken in pill form, to treat human disease. Informally, they are called “designer probiotics”. But, unlike probiotics (microorganisms with known health benefits), they can’t be obtained via a serving of yogurt from your local supermarket. Rather, the bacteria in question are feats of genetic engineering and are specifically designed … Continue reading Microbial Physicians: Delivering drugs with bacteria

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Diabetes, Cancer and the Drug that Fights them Both

by Megan L Norris figures by Bradley Wierbowski The emerging link between cancer and diabetes In the early 2000s, observations that diabetics are more likely to get cancer than non-diabetics began piling up. Was this because diabetes and cancer share general risk factors such as diet, aging and obesity? Or was there a direct link between them, with cancer benefiting from the sugar-rich and inflamed … Continue reading Diabetes, Cancer and the Drug that Fights them Both

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Ocrelizumab: The first treatment for primary progressive multiple sclerosis

by Tianli Xiao figures by Abigail Burrus Multiple sclerosis begins when a patient is as young as 20. It can start with blurry vision, tingling in the arms or legs, or a persistent feeling of tiredness. MS is a long-term, progressive disease that worsens over time, but there are few drugs available today. Even worse, patients diagnosed with a less common form of MS known … Continue reading Ocrelizumab: The first treatment for primary progressive multiple sclerosis

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The End of the Waitlist: How chimeras could solve the organ transplant problem

by Garrett Dunlap figures by Shannon McArdel Every ten minutes, another person joins the list of hundreds of thousands waiting for organ transplants. The wait is sometimes years long, despite many of the candidates being in critical condition. But what if the need for transplant waiting lists could be eliminated? Recent advances in a decades-old technology known as chimerism give reason to believe that this … Continue reading The End of the Waitlist: How chimeras could solve the organ transplant problem

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One Neuron to Rule Them All?

  The brain is arguably the most complex organ in the human body and understanding its structure could help explain a fundamental mystery of human existence: consciousness. The brain is composed of billions of specialized cells called neurons, which communicate with each other via electrical and chemical signals. Neurons are responsible for processes ranging from vital life functions to the ability to walk, talk remember, … Continue reading One Neuron to Rule Them All?

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Could Woolly Mammoths Walk Again?

The Church lab at Harvard University recently announced plans to create a hybrid mammoth and elephant. Using a technology called CRISPR, researchers in the Church lab have learned how to insert mammoth DNA into the cells of modern elephants. Theoretically, this could set the stage for developing an embryo with DNA from both a modern elephant and the woolly mammoth. The group would like to … Continue reading Could Woolly Mammoths Walk Again?

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Better Bees: Progress Towards Robotic Pollinators

Bees and pollen are associated with a variety of irritations, but together they play a key role in crop production and global agriculture. Unfortunately, bee populations have been declining over the past decade. In response to the threat posed to the world’s food supply, scientists from Japan have been working to develop a robotic bee that can pollinate flowers just like a real honeybee. These … Continue reading Better Bees: Progress Towards Robotic Pollinators